UNDP's first Arab Human Development Report identified gender differentiations and, particularly, women’s status and advancement, as one of three principal development deficits and challenges in the Arab States region, along with the deficits of freedom and knowledge. The fourth Arab Human Development Report: “Towards the Rise of Women in the Arab World” (2005), elaborated a strategic vision for overcoming constraints to Arab women’s advancement which, in and of itself, is a necessary condition for sustainable human development and the overall economic, social, political and cultural progress in the region.
Notwithstanding striking variations among and within the countries of the region, a synopsis of the situation of women in the Arab States region is reflected in the following statistics: maternal mortality rate averages 270 deaths per 100,000 live births; HIV/AIDS prevalence rates are relatively low, but women and girls represent half the number infected and females between the ages of 15-24 twice as likely than males in the same age to become infected; the Arab region has one of the highest rates of female illiteracy in the world and one of the lowest enrolment rates at various levels of education; women’s economic participation is the lowest in the world (33% compared to the world’s average of 55.6%) and represents 42% of men’s participation rate; dependency ratios are the highest in the world; human poverty is higher among Arab women than among Arab men and their participation in political life, including elected office and leadership position is also lower.
As elaborated in the 2005 Arab Human Development Report, the strategic vision, anchored in engendering human development and in all the MDGs, rests on a two-pronged trajectory of actions: (a) empowering Arab women and promoting gender equality by eliminating the roots of discrimination in cultural constructs (this includes redressing the perpetuation of discriminatory gender roles in education, media, legislation, political participation, economic activity/labour market segmentation, statistics, body of legal rights and freedoms, and the feminization of poverty), and (b) sustained civil society engagement and activism.
People across the Arab States region – especially young women and men, from all walks of life and side by side -- are calling for greater political freedom, economic opportunities and reclaiming human and national dignity. In demanding the full enjoyment of their human rights, decent jobs, and governments that are both responsive and accountable to their citizens, they are acting to transform their societies for the better.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations called on the international community to stand firmly behind the principles of the UN Charter to “promote human rights, social progress and better standards of life”. This includes equal rights of women and men.
Today, more than ever, events in the countries of the Arab region present an historic opportunity to fundamentally improve the status and position of women in their societies, as well as to safeguard the gains they have already achieved, including those through Constitutional and legislative reforms. UNDP must work to ensure that women’s voices, participation in economic and political life and the indivisibility of human rights are central to the transformational change processes and reform efforts sweeping through the region. As the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has reminded the world “in these moments of historic transition, it is important to ensure that women’s rights are not set aside as something to be dealt with after the ‘crucial’ reforms are won. Women’s rights should be at the top of the list of new priorities."
UNDP is the UN’s global development network, an organization advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. UNDP is on the ground in 166 countries, working with people on their own solutions to global, regional and national development challenges. In all its activities UNDP encourages the protection of human rights, including gender equality and the empowerment of women.
UNDP is guided by its Strategic Plan (2008-2013) which is accompanied by a Gender Equality Strategy. The Strategic Plan outlines UNDPs strategic approach within the focus areas of: poverty reduction; democratic governance; crises prevention and recovery; environment and sustainable development, and ensures that the cross-cutting issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment, capacity development and knowledge management are addressed. The Gender Equality Strategy 2008-2013 guides UNDP on integrating gender equality and women’s empowerment within the four focus areas, including by providing a concrete set of development indicators against which to measure progress; the Regional Bureau for Arab States (RBAS) has adapted this corporate strategy to be responsive to the specificities of the country and regional contexts.
The Practice Architecture:
The Bureau for Development Policy (BDP) within UNDP is responsible for articulating UNDP’s global development policy, using evidence gathered through country applications, regional experiences and global interactions. Driven by demand, and working through the Regional Bureaux, BDP provides the global tools, analysis and capacities that country offices need to make a real difference in UNDP’s focus areas.
UNDP has 6 Regional Services Centers (RSC) (Cairo, Johanesburg, Panama City, Bangkok and Dakar) which provide the interlace of support from the HQ-based Bureau of Development policy, the Bureau for Crises Prevention and Recovery, the Bureaux of Management, and the respective Regional Bureau to the region and its country offices. Each of these Regional Centers anchors UNDP’s practice architecture within the respective region in support of Country Offices (CO)with the purpose of strengthening UNDP’s development and management results at country and regional levels as well as UN Coordination results. The Regional Centres are comprised of dedicated Practice Leaders (PL) for each UNDP focus area (Poverty Reduction, Democratic Governance, Crises Prevention and Recovery, Environment and Sustainable Development) a Knowledge Management Team Leader (KMTL), a Regional Practice Leader for Gender and another for Capacity Development. The Regional Practice Leaders coordinate the regional community of practice with the global practice, to promote consistency and coherence within the practice. They also promote linkages and synergies among the Practices. The RSC in Cairo also includes a Management Practice (Procurement, Communications, RBM/M&E, etc.) as well as a UN Coordination unit to support UN Reforms, particularly in the context of the UNDG and its regional subsidiary: the UNDG Regional Directors’ Team which provides strategic leadership and guidance to the UN Country Teams. In the Arab region, the UNDG Regional Directors’ Team identified Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment as one of 5 regional strategic priorities for coordinated action and joint programming. This undergirds, and intersects with, the other 4 priorities: Youth as a positive force for transformative change, the nexus of food security and climate change, employment and decent jobs, and strategic positioning in MICs, where issues of governance and inequalities are germane.
Gender Practice/Thematic Approach:
Gender Equality and women’s empowerment are human rights that lie at the heart of development and the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals.
UNDP is currently implementing its Gender Equality Strategy 2008-2013 (GES) in all the regions. The strategy is aligned with UNDP’s Strategic Plan and seeks to ensure that gender equality and women’s empowerment are central to the organization’s work. The Gender Equality Strategy aims to ensure that UNDP interventions (a) assist national institutions in developing countries to design their policies plans and budgets in ways that address the needs of poor women, men, boys and girls equitably; (b) empower women to participate in all branches of the State and in civil society, as well as to contribute to decision making processes and economic and political life; (c) support government institutions and women’s organizations to collect, analyze and better use quality information and data on gender equality and women’s empowerment, because only with the right facts can a country determine the best way to solve a problem.
Within the Arab Region, UNDP is committed to accelerating progress towards achievement of the MDGs including MDG3 on gender equality and women’s empowerment.. The Regional Bureau for Arab States identified women’s economic empowerment and their role in natural resources management as interlinked priorities for UNDP’s work at country and regional levels, undergirded by capacity development. The Regional Bureau is also working with the League of Arab States to improve gender data and statistics to enhance evidence-based policy options for improving gender equality and women’s empowerment. Recent events in the region reinforce these areas of focus, while also expanding the scope for prioritizing women’s political participation as well, especially in the context of ongoing democratic transitions, including to safeguard and build on the rights women have already acquired, influence constitutional and legislative reform measures, ensure gender-responsive social service delivery, transitional justice and security sector reforms accompanying the democratic governance transition, and improve and expand women’s economic and employment opportunities, in order to maximize the benefits from the changing roles women are playing in public life.
The Regional Practice Leader’s role is to strengthen gender equality and women’s empowerment in the Arab States region, anchored in the global gender practice architecture. Emphasis is placed on intra practice coordination at country, regional and global levels; on inter- practice policy and programme coherence and synergies; as well as on ensuring both consistency with global best practices and contributions from the region to the global practice.
The incumbent must be able to ensure that UNDP is able to respond to women’s demands for inclusivity in democratic processes and economic opportunities in a holistic matter. In doing so, the incumbant will ensure the quality and relevance of programme and project services in the gender practice in the Arab States region. To that end, the PL‘s functions are fully integrated in the Regional Service Centre structure, results planning and delivery. As a result, the incumbent will be accountable for ensuring the delivery of quality results to both the Deputy Regional Director (DRD)/Director RSC-Cairo on all matters related to support and services at country and regional levels, and to the Gender Team Director (PD) in BDP, NY, on all matters related to global policy. This integrated approach translates into joint work planning and joint performance assessment. The Career Review Group will take place in the RSC with the participation of the Gender Team Director, who can ensure consistency between Gender PL’s in the different regions and provide advice on learning and career development in the practice.
The incumbent will be responsible for the following functions:
- Practice Management and Coordination;
- Partnership building;
- Policy Advocacy and Advisory Services;
- Policy Development;
- Quality control and assurance;
- Knowledge Management
Practice Management and Co-ordination:
- Provide substantive and managerial leadership of the regional gender team and coordination for all personnel engaged in related operational activities in the RSC;
- Support and oversee regional gender programme activities and gender mainstreaming in the regional programme;
- Lead advocacy in gender equality and women’s empowerment in the region including promotion of gender global policies, norms and standards and the sharing of the global experience;
- Collaborate with the Gender Team Director and policy advisors in headquarters to ensure that the RSC-based gender team is up to date on evolving policies.
Coordination and Management:
- Consolidate and anchor the gender architecture in RBAS to support Country Offices and projects under the Regional Programme;
- Oversee support to Country Offices on gender issues and liaise with Country Offices to support the inclusion of gender dimensions at the planning stages of country and regional programmes;
- Prepare a gender work plan to integrate into the RSC overall work plan;
- Identify sub-regional and inter-country development and integration opportunities and translate them into capacity development initiatives to address cross border issues;
- Support the Global Tracking system for gender;
- Manage all activities related to gender at the RSC including direct supervision, when appropriate, of the policy advisors and other practice specialists, including regional programme personnel; create positive team environment and ensure access to learning opportunities for all staff.
Mobilizing the Community of Practice:
- Promote the development of a gender community of practice (COP) at the regional level, including by providing training and networking opportunities, and catalyze and connect to global experiences;
- Coordinate all cross-practice collaboration and capitalize on the approaches and tools in other practices;
- Contribute evidence-based best practices and lessons learned from the region to inform and shape global practice.
- Effectively position UNDP’s gender capacity within the UN system to foster consistency in approach, within the regional level by scanning and assessing activities of non-UNDP players in the local context and in support of UNCTs and UNDP CO programming arrangements with government counterparts, in consultation with Country Offices;
- Provide guidance and leadership for the engagement of civil society in regional and country programmes, the promotion of civic engagement and the establishment of strategic partnerships, in consultation with Country Offices;
- Engage national and regional partners in gender policy and programme responses under the leadership of the Country Offices and the UNCT;
- Lead partnership building with regional and local institutions and consultancies, in consultation with Country Offices;
- Develop an gender expert roster for the region with staff;
- Support resource mobilization for gender in the region and develop multi-partner proposals;
- Lead the formulation and implementation, in the practice areas, of the regional partnership to support gender, and support resource mobilization strategies in liaison with the Regional Bureaux and other concerned units;
- Scan partnership opportunities and donor intelligence and inform the DRD of new partnership developments, e.g. donor priorities; pledges, new donor funding modalities, etc. ensuring that this supports gender work;
- Maintain and strengthen partnerships with key multilaterals (BWIs, Regional Banks, etc) and key regional institutions to support the gender architecture.
Policy Advocacy & Advisory Services:
- Organize and provide policy advisory services to the Governments and other partners in the region in the area of gender, in consultation with the relevant Country Office(s);
- Contribute to the formulation of CO programmes drawing upon lessons from programmes and other initiatives in the region and from global experiences;
- Provide effective support and backstopping for, and timely feedback and reporting on implementation of programmes in support of the gender architecture;
- Strengthen internal CO capacity on the use of UNDP corporate practice development frameworks;
- Promote the utilization of financial resources mobilized and allocated for gender in regional and country programmes and in HQ, thematic trust funds, ensuring that all policy advisors are able to facilitate access to these funds by country offices and regional projects.
- Contribute to the development and formulation of global policies, norms and standards with the Gender Team Director in BDP, NY;
- Contribute experience and expertise to the formulation at the central level of new and evolving global policies, norms and standards.
Quality Control and Assurance:
- Provide Quality Assurance to ensure alignment with global development policies, norms and standards;
- Co-ordinate delivery of demand-driven service delivery to Country Offices and regional programmes ensuring professionalism in support , e.g. timelines, responsiveness, quality in deliverables, etc;
- Promote quality standards including long-term locally driven initiatives;
- Ensure cross-practice approach and cross-regional collaboration back to the global level.
Knowledge Management (KM):
- Develop with the KMST, in co-ordination with the Gender Team Director, region-wide lessons learnt, best practices and generate knowledge needed and lessons learnt to shape UNDP’s global strategies in the region;
- Participate in local KM sharing events and support the corporate KM agenda.